Have you ever connected your HDMI cable to make an important presentation, watch a movie or play a video game only for it not to work? Before you worry about replacing the other devices, you may have a bad HDMI cable.
Here are the symptoms of a bad HDMI cable:
- Inconsistency in your video display.
- Poor sound / no sound transmission.
- No picture display / inconsistent color display.
- No response when connected to an AV device.
The rest of this article will explain the symptoms of a bad HDMI cable. I will also explain what you can do when yours has gone bad and how you can take better care of your cable so that it can serve you longer.
Also read: Does An HDMI Splitter Reduce Quality?
Some Bad HDMI Cable Symptoms & Fixes
The symptoms of a bad HDMI cable are lagging or inconsistent picture or audio, inferior visual or audio quality, no picture or sound, or no response from your device. The signs that your HDMI cable displays will differ depending on how damaged the cable is.
So, let’s discuss how to recognize that your bad transmission is your HDMI cable’s fault.
1. Inconsistency in Your Video Display
Displaying a video that constantly stops, breaks, or has screeches does not serve you any justice as a viewer.
The primary function of an HDMI cable is to transmit audio and video waves from output devices like projectors, AV receivers, and input/output devices like televisions, computers, and display monitors.
However, when the tiny wires inside an HDMI cable are fried or have shifted out of place, the line might have issues sending signals to your device. Replacing the cable is likely to solve these issues.
2. Poor Sound / No Sound Transmission
When you connect your television or other output devices, make sure that you check for any abnormalities or inconsistencies. A buzz, screech, lag, or absence of the sound signifies that your cable might have some issues.
Try unfolding the cable entirely to ensure that there are no bends. Kinks in the line sometimes cause display problems. If this also fails, consider getting a new one altogether.
3. No Picture Display / Blurry Picture
Similar to the above symptom, a bad HDMI cable will affect the quality of the picture you get on your display screen. Your cable could have a problem if you notice an image with shooting stars or sparkles, disfigured faces, lines, fuzz, or no display.
In cases where the visual quality is less than ideal, straighten out your cable, disconnect and reconnect it, and restart your devices. If these steps don’t work, you might just need a new HDMI line.
4. No Response When Connected to AV Device
You will have an immediate AV display for some monitors and display devices when a cable is connected. However, other times, you will get some alert through a sound or the words “HDMI connected” on your screen.
If you don’t see this response, try using a different HDMI cable to check if yours has broken.
Can a Bad HDMI Cable Damage the TV?
A bad HDMI cable can not damage your TV, but it will affect your usage. A lousy cable will primarily cause your videos to play poorly or inconsistently. However, an active HDMI cable that carries an electrical current may damage your television.
You may start to see shooting stars, sparkles in the image displayed on the screen, lines, or an intermittent image in your display. This visual interference can be irritating, especially if you are photo-light-sensitive, ultimately rendering your television useless.
Only active HDMI cables can pose a threat to your TV. Active HDMI cables such as the HDMI 1.4 usually carry 3 volts. Others like the HDMI 2.0 transmit 5 volts.
Can a Bad HDMI Cable Affect Sound?
A bad HDMI cable will affect sound since it will reduce the quality of the sound transmitted to your AV device. With a bad HDMI cable, you will notice breakage in the sound received or none at all.
HDMI cables transmit sound and visual signals, so if either your audio or screen is fuzzy, distorted, or skipping, your HDMI cable might be the root of the problem.
What Causes an HDMI Cable To Go Bad?
HDMI cables will eventually break or degrade, just like any other technology device or appliance. However, a good-quality HDMI cable cannot just go bad on its own.
Rough handling and age cause an HDMI cable to go bad. Pulling, bending, and stretching the wire will eventually disconnect some of the wires inside the cable, creating issues with signal transmission. Water, heat, and dust can also ruin the HDMI connectors.
Therefore, the lifespan of the cable will vary from individual to individual. A line that you regularly use is also likely to face exposure to poor handling, stretching, or tension.
Suppose your work involves heavy technology use, for example. It could be sound engineering, wide-scale projecting, or film work. In these cases, you are bound to use them more, and it is advisable to buy a few extra ones in case of an emergency.
HDMI cables mainly get spoilt as a result of poor handling by the user, such as:
- Folding the wires, which can lead to breakage of internal fibers.
- Dust accumulation in the cable sockets.
- Exposure to excessive heat.
- Exposure to water or other liquids.
- Breaking or bending the terminals inside the HDMI socket.
- Storing the cable poorly or using it carelessly, such as putting heavy items on it or pulling it excessively.
What To Consider When Replacing an HDMI Cable
It is easy to replace an HDMI cable once you discover it has gone bad.
According to OpenAir Cinema, before you worry about the cost of replacing any of your devices because it has an issue, you should consider checking the condition of your HDMI cable.
Should you discover a problem, it is cheaper to replace it with a new one than get a new television device or display monitor.
In most cases, HDMI connectors usually come silver plated. Still, some bands make them gold-plated, and these cables can draw customers to them because they look sophisticated. However, they also offer some of the best protection since the casings are strong enough to withstand bending and pressure.
Others will opt for an HDMI cable with a nylon braided cord. Such as this AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable (available on Amazon.com). Coming in 3, 6, and 15 feet (0.91, 1.83, and 4.57 meters) options, it works with earlier versions of HDMI-enabled devices.
The nylon cord consists of a durable material, which you can easily fit into tight spaces. Nylon braided cables are also less susceptible to tangles than your standard cable type, making them more durable and easier to store.
How To Take Care of Your HDMI Cable
If you don’t want to deal with malfunctioning HDMI cables in the future, it’s best to take good care of the one you have.
Here are some tips to help you make your HDMI cable last longer (saving you money and frustration):
- Fold it in a circular motion after use. As opposed to tight angles, this helps to protect the cable’s internal fibers from breaking.
- Do not pull it extensively. If the devices you are trying to connect are too far away from each other, try to bring them closer to avoid unnecessary tension on the HDMI cable. If this is not possible, consider buying an HDMI extender built to help you carry transmission over longer distances.
- Keep it away from excessive heat or water. Store your cable like any other technology device – away from hot temperatures and safe from water. That way, it will serve you longer.
- Avoid leaving it exposed to dust for too long. If you are working in or using the cable in a dusty environment, take the necessary precautions to avoid getting the terminals filled with dust.
- Keep your cable in an airtight container or bag when not using it. If you protect your HDMI cable from the elements, you can ensure that no water or dust will affect it.
- Check your cable regularly. Take the time to inspect your cable before and after use. Check for any unfamiliar scratches or dents and ensure that all the terminals face the correct direction. Clean off any dust as soon as you see it to keep it out of the terminal.
- Do not put heavy items on top of your cable. Sometimes, we run out of space when organizing a room, leading us to put heavy devices on top of wires. Unfortunately, their weight can cause internal damage. Desist from doing this to your HDMI cable to prevent it from going bad.
- Keep your cable out of reach for children and pets. Children like to experiment and often pull or tug on cables, damaging them entirely. Keep your HDMI cables away from kids, cats, and dogs.
- Keep a backup HDMI cable for testing. If you suspect that your cable is going bad, you will need a neutral cable to check and test this. Always keep an extra HDMI cable that you can use to test should the need arise.
HDMI cables are generally long-lasting, but they can go bad eventually. They are still wires, and they may lose their efficiency if you handle them roughly, fold them tightly, or expose them to dust, water, or hot temperatures.
A bad HDMI cable will lead to sound and video transmission breakage, making it hard for the owner to enjoy using the device. It’s easy to replace the cable, but with proper storage, cleaning, and protection from excess heat or water, you can extend the life of an HDMI cable.
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.